Thursday, November 29, 2012

REVIEW: SLUG Zombies Series 3 - Riled-Up Riley

Produced by JAKKS Pacific | Released November 2012

Survival Skill: His Boy Scout Training
Likes: A Quiet Night At Home With The Misses
Dislikes: Telemarketers, Clutter
Favorite Quote: ''This Could Get Ugly...''

SLUG Zombies Series 3
Yes, I know we're getting a little ahead of ourselves and we haven't completed our extensive figure-by-figure look at Series 1 or indeed Series 2, but given that figures from Series 3 (and 4!) are landing at retail, we wanted to jump in and take a look at a few highlights from the new line, the first of which is the rather awesome Riled-Up Riley.

The three-figure pack featuring Riled-Up Riley was provided for Review purposes by JAKKS Pacific. Although given how cool the SLUG Zombie line is, you know we'd have bought it for ourselves anyway, but we just wanted to clarify that point before anybody accused us of being corporate sell-outs.

Riled-Up Riley
As you probably know, SLUG Zombies come in three main flavors of packaging - blind-boxed figures, three-figure packs and twelve-figure multi-packs. Riled-Up Riley is available in a 3-figure pack, which also features the non-exclusive Extra Crispy and Zero Hero (both of which appear in the twelve-figure pack.) JAKKS Pacific has re-shuffled the whole exclusives-versus-shared ratio of figures in this wave in yet another way, with there being one three-pack containing no exclusives, two featuring one unique figure each, a fourth containing two exclusives and the twelve-pack including four figures not available in the three-packs. So there's something for the math nerds to play around with...

Sculpt & Design
The SLUG Zombies line features a mix of parodies, original gags and movie/TV homages and Riled-Up Riley falls into the latter category, clearly being the team's tribute to the titular hero of the RomZomCom Shaun of the Dead. So if you've ever wondered what Simon Pegg would look like if he were 2 inches tall, now you know!

The design nails it perfectly, with every detail and foible you'd expect of a Shaun... homage being here, from his improvised necktie bandage to his goatee, cricket bat and (yes, it's there if you look closely) work badge, all sculpted with a superb level of intricacy (and for those who may not know this bit of trivia, Shaun's surname is Riley - according to IMDb, you can see it on the DJ poster in the background.). I say it in every Review, I know, but the close-up detail on the SLUG Zombies line is superb.

The broader sculpt detail is also impressive. There's a feeling of his clothing being actual clothing (rather than part of the figure's body, if you see what I mean) with the crease in his pants leg and the un-tucked shirttail and shirt buttons being particularly well done. They're small details but they're also important and help to convey the ramshackle, pushed-to-his-limits sense of the figure's character (after all, remember he's Riled-Up Riley!)

Obviously he's not articulated but one of the things I love about the SLUG Zombie line is that the designers always capture a sense of dynamism or character in their poses. My guess is that the fairly solid plastic they're manufactured from also allows for a wider range of posing options, as there's no danger of limbs being ripped off as there would be with other, softer plastics. It's also slightly reminiscent of the pre-grapple stances used in the MUSCLE line of toys, which is, again, a nice little homage.

The SLUG Zombies come in one of two colorways - putrid green for the undead and ''MUSCLE peach'' for the Zombie Hunters/humans. Riled-Up Riley falls into the latter category. This is a figure that is screaming out for a paint treatment and I'm hoping somebody soon gets their hands on Riled-Up Riley and gives him a makeover. Let me know if you happen to be that person, as I'd love to see what you come up with!

Extras & Accessories
Riled-Up Riley is available, as mentioned, as part of a three-figure pack (with pack-mates Extra Crispy and Zero Hero being along for the ride, too) and comes with the fold-out collector guide/figure bio sheet for Series 3. It's not only a useful guide but also allows the designers to further showcase the line's grisly, dark humor, so it's definitely worth hanging onto!

Final Thoughts
Riled-Up Riley is a figure SLUG Zombie collectors have been looking forward to seeing for a while now, which comes as no surprise given how popular Shaun of the Dead is. So does JAKKS Pacific's homage to the reluctant zombie slayer deliver on that promise? Absolutely.

Sometimes homages can be too obscure or vague to hit the mark. Other times going down the obvious route isn't the way to do it, as it's very easy for such blatant tributes to come off as bootlegs or knock-offs. Thankfully Riled-Up Riley, despite clearly wearing his roots upon his sleeve, is produced with such attention to detail and, yes, love that he manages to avoid falling into either category. Somebody, somewhere in JAKKS HQ is a big fan and this is their love-letter to the character. 

My only criticism is that Riled-Up Riley is only available as part of a three-pack featuring two non-exclusive figures - one of only two figures in Series 3 bundled in such a way (the other being the line's tribute to Zombieland's Tallahassee, Woody the Wrecker). So if you've already got the twelve-figure pack, you're basically going to be paying $4 for this one figure. Now compared to the ebay price I'm sure he'll be fetching in a few weeks that's not bad value but at the same time it could stick in the craw of completist collectors. As ever, getting a complete run of figures in this wave will see some duplication, so just be sure to shop smart (shop S-mart - wait, he's in Series 4...)

And as I haven't said it yet, I'll sum-up this figure in Shaun's own words: ''how's that for a slice of fried gold?''

Final Score: A-

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